Harbor Technical Advisory Committee
Cooperative planning for the Duluth-Superior port and St. Louis River estuary
One of three advisory committees to the MIC, the Harbor Technical Advisory Committee (HTAC) is a longstanding, diverse stakeholder group with a growing list of successful planning and policy initiatives. Recognized by the US-Canadian port community as a model for successful planning, collaboration and information sharing, it is, in the words of former Duluth Seaway Port Authority Director Adolf Ojard, “a committee that actually gets work done.”
- To provide a forum for the discussion of issues and concerns pertaining to the Duluth-Superior harbor
- To promote the harbor’s economic and environmental importance to the community
- To provide sound planning and management recommendations to the Metropolitan Interstate Council
The HTAC meets quarterly. Current topics include dredged material management, environmental restoration and enhancement activities, and land use development activities in the St. Louis River bay and estuary.
- Coordinated multi-agency research discovered the cause of, and mitigation strategies for, the accelerated freshwater corrosion that threatened $120 million in pier, dock wall and piling infrastructure.
- The Erie Pier confined disposal facility (CDF) has been converted from a standard Confined Disposal Facility (CDF) to a first-of-its-kind Processing and Reuse Facility (PRF) for uncontaminated dredge materials.
- Reclaimed fine dredge material from the Erie Pier PRF is tested and certified as uncontaminated and is utilized as a component of environmental remediation and habitat restoration projects around the St. Louis River Area of Concern (AOC).
- Recommendations from the Duluth-Superior Port Land Use plan, to reserve remaining waterfront land for maritime access to the federally-maintained shipping channels, have been incorporated into each city’s Comprehensive Plan.
The 31 voting members of the HTAC represent a wide range of harbor stakeholders including business owners, environmental groups and local, state and federal officials who are directly concerned with the planning, programming and implementation of issues pertaining to the harbors of Duluth and Superior. In addition, non-voting technical advisors from any member agency, organization or local government are encouraged to attend and participate in HTAC meetings.
HTAC as a Model for Other Port Communities
Participation on the HTAC encourages representatives from industry, government, academic, environmental, regulatory and citizen groups on both sides of the bridge to work toward solutions, recognizing that although they have separate and distinct missions, they also have shared goals. Most port communities face similar challenges, such as managing dredged materials, cleaning up contaminated sediments and maintaining port infrastructure. The Minnesota and Wisconsin Sea Grant Programs as well as the Army Corps of Engineers are actively promoting the creation of harbor committees, similar to HTAC, as a way for other communities to more effectively address these issues.
The HTAC’s member-initiated working groups address specific issues in-depth, and report back to the full HTAC and to the MIC Policy Board.
The Dredging Subcommittee supports short and long term strategies for dredged material management. It will be undertaking an update of the 2007 Erie Pier Management Plan, which indefinitely extends the life of the facility by replacing its traditional design as a Confined Disposal Facility to an innovative, first- of- its-kind Processing and Reuse Facility.
Other efforts related to dredge material management include working with the Army Corps Detroit District as they consider developing a new Dredged Material Management Plan for the Duluth-Superior harbor, coordinating stakeholder input of the 21st Avenue West and other harbor Restoration to Remediation projects, and working to find additional beneficial reuse projects for the fine-grained, navigation channel dredged materials.
Great Lakes Ports Advocacy Subcommittee
The Great Lakes Ports Advocacy Coalition organizes informal stakeholder lobbying efforts in Washington D.C. targeted at increasing funding for maintenance dredging and other water transportation infrastructure.
Membership and Bylaws Subcommittee
The Membership and Bylaws Subcommittee meets on an as needed basis to review membership issues, attendance information and to discuss potential changes to the HTAC bylaws. These meetings may include a series of email contacts to better facilitate the review of materials. MIC staff will assist this subcommittee by bringing relevant materials to the attention of subcommittee members.
The Navigation Subcommittee was convened at the request of the Coast Guard Marine Safety Unit in Duluth to bring navigation and port stakeholders together annually (or as needed) to discuss topics related to navigation safety. The main meeting is held every spring as shipping and port operations resume in the harbor.
Other meetings may be held when encountering early or extended ice conditions to discuss lock closures and other seasonal issues, or those related to dredging, waterfront development projects, or other matters as deemed necessary.
Open Water Mitigation
Open Water Mitigation Subcommittee
The Open Water Mitigation (OWM) working group was created in 2015 to examine issues and align existing regulations related to the efficient permitting of development projects within the Duluth Superior Harbor, and to recommend improvements where needed. A primary objective is to enhance communication and coordination across agencies to better provide clearly expectations and timelines for those seeking permits within the harbor and to streamline the permitting process. Other work items include identifying open water mitigation options or case studies through a formal, multi-state literature search and exploring the possibility of establishing an open water mitigation bank (similar to the concept of a “wetlands bank”) for the Port of Duluth Superior.
Port Land Use Plan Subcommittee
This study committee was appointed in 2014 to assist with the update of the 2006 Duluth-Superior Port Land Use Plan to guide future development and land use in the port area. After the completion of the plan in 2016, members of this working group continue to meet to work on implementation strategies for the Plan’s recommendations